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The GOP primary “beauty contest” on April 24 in Pennsylvania may very well decide whether Rick Santorum continues as a candidate for President but while most national attention is on that part of the primary ballot, further down the composition of the Congress is being decided.
The problem for a young lady whose dad lived an exemplary life and with whom she has had a normal, Christian relationship, is that she then has standards which she applies to all future men who seek her hand in marriage.
While the liberal left makes much at every chance they can about the various choices which conservatives have had among Palin, Bachmann, Cain, more recently Newt Gingrich and today, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, the truth is that we have a number of suitors we keep comparing to daddy – our hero, President Ronald Reagan.
And telling us “get over it” – as liberals love to say – is rather unpersuasive because we will always love daddy and we will always compare all suitors to him – whether we lived during those days or we have simply read about the great hero of the conservative cause.
In the newly revised 4th Congressional District of south central Pennsylvania, which has a retiring Congressman who is both affable and generally conservative, my friends in the cause, particularly the three-legged, more well informed conservatives, are somewhat hard pressed to figure this out with seven candidates who are all saying Me, Me, I’m the True Conservative.
The winner of this 7-way battle for the GOP primary will be very hard pressed to lose in this red state district, even with the assistance of the Libertarian Party candidate who can be reliably counted on to take a few percentage points off the Republican candidate’s vote tally versus a Democrat.
In fact, the bargain that conservatives are looking for is to see if the generally affable, likeable and popular Congressman Todd Platts, can be replaced with a better deal. Can a district that deserves a 90% to 100% conservative get a Congressman who is closer to their philosophy than Platts?
The American Conservative Union (ACU) and the “stricter” Heritage Action ratings of Platts show he is far removed fro being a “100% conservative” with the former ranking him at 67% (his lifetime rating is slightly higher) and 53% respectively).
It is highly unlikely my district will get a nicer or more hardworking, constituent-service oriented Congressman but do you suppose we are being so greedy to think that those are great qualities for a politician, but our daddy – Ronald Reagan – had that AND was pretty solid on our issues too?
My friends in the district, particularly the Christian-conservative activists, say they can never vote for anyone who is neutral or not willing to speak out clearly on an issue such as HB 1077. “Claiming you are ‘right to life’ isn’t enough. What will they do in Washington when they are under fire like this – run for the hills, or stand and fight, and help rally our side to their flag”?
I have reported several times in this space how 28 (and now I learn it is closer to 40) GOP state representatives withdrew their sponsorship and went silent on this issue a few weeks ago – eliminating its chances of passage now in a GOP controlled body. One of those who withdrew was on the stage this past Monday night chiming right in with the other candidates that he was the “true conservative.”
But Nancy Woodcock, one of the leaders of “Americans for Christian Traditions in our Nation,” noticed that the GOP candidate’s debate sponsored by the York County Republican Party this past Monday night, managed to completely avoid even a mention of ANY of the issues of interest to “values voters”. – not just silence on HB 1077.
Here is my report on one of the open seats for Congress with a contested primary and seven candidates. Nancy, who has been one of our sources in the past for some of my reports and is one of several people who reported to me about this debate, was very disappointed that the issues of highest concern were never asked as a question and never mentioned by any of the candidates.
Before I tell you of one candidate who is at the top of the list – but he won’t like this list – here’s my report based on “combined sources.”
Ted Waga seems to be the most consistent in appealing to all three parts of that old Reagan coalition – national security, economics and values voters.
But there’s serious concern about how so much of his life has been spent working outside of his district, his inexperience in the political world either as an officeholder or even as a consistent advocate for our cause and the fact that he has never owned his own business but has worked for the government as a police officer.
We are delighted to hear new voices raised for our issues and especially as we have reported in this space in the past, alone of the candidates Ted Waga has at least spoken out for passage of the HB 1077 “Women’s Right to Know” bill that is currently stalled in the legislature.
We have previously reported in this space how Ted Waga has gone beyond merely “taking a position” but has also made phone calls to legislators and we have read of his support on his Facebook page (where he actually recommended my RED STATE column- should this bias me towards him?).
But there is uncertainty because of Waga’s inexperience in the conservative cause and his naive sounding claims that he drove off the Congressman who won reelection with 70% of the vote last time, and his association with some of the most bitter and angry sounding critics of the incumbent in the district.
His attacks on the incumbent – who is not running – and his claim that he alone had courage since he was the sole challenger before the incumbent announced his retirement after 6 terms and 12 years in office, convinced no one.
One of the other candidates slapped Sean Summers down badly, pointing out that “of course none of the rest of us challenged Todd Platts before he announced his retirement” said Mark Swomley in rebuttal, “he is a popular Congressman and we like him”.
Mark Swomley, a project Manager at Hershey, missed his bet by not speaking more about the wonderful charitable work done by his employer and how this shows that individuals not the government, provide the finest, most caring, compassionate and effective help to the underprivileged in America and is an example missing from so much of the rest of the world.
Instead, Swomley attacked Rep. Scott Perry by claiming he just wanted to be promoted to another political office. Duh? That’s like saying: Swomley, you are just looking for a new job. It belabors the obvious and scores no points with anyone.
And, advises Swomley during his brief moment in the sun, “we don’t need more politicians” (referring to the York County Commissioner and the State Representative). He attacked “the lawyer” (Sean Summers) running for the office – evidently we don’t need more of those either. And, apparently, we don’t need people who have owned their own business either since Mark’s position as a “manager” of a company appears to be his central focus as a candidate although he does make an excellent point about his business experience in balancing budgets.
In Sean Summers, we have one candidate who seems to be a genuine hero who served our country in Afghanistan, earning a Bronze Star (valor). As an attorney back here in the district Summers helped the family file the lawsuit against the phony Christians who claimed it was their “Westboro Church” Christian mission to disrupt the funerals of servicemen (“thank God for dead soldiers” was their chant and their signs AT THE FUNERALS).
Sean Summers stuck with that family all the way to the Supreme Court, never charging them for his time. That alone would seem to earn a vote from conservatives. He finished 2nd among the “values voters” at the Americans for Christian Traditions in our Nation (ACTION of PA) candidate forum straw poll in their ratings after he spoke.
But the County Commissioner who actually has many years of experience balancing the government budget here in York County, Chris Reilly, is a former “Statesman of the Year” of that same Christian-conservative group.
And Reilly is running terrific TV commercials – or at least friends from Americans for Prosperity PAC are – featuring a very strong endorsement by Sen. Toomey, who wowed the crowed at the recent PA Leadership Conference with his defense of the free enterprise system.
And at the debate this past week, even former U.S. Army Ranger and war veteran Summers was eclipsed by candidate Kevin Downs in apparent knowledge of national defense issues.
Alone of the candidates, only several of whom sounded supportive of Israel’s fight for survival in the middle east, Downs seemed to understand that telling Israel to “go ahead, go it alone, we support you” might not work out real well.
He spoke truthfully in saying it isn’t Syria that is our chief problem in the middle east (as the well-spoken, pretty but empty-headed TV journalist seemed to think in her question of the candidates) but Iran which is our chief threat with its nuclear weapons program nearing completion.
Kevin Downs seemed to be the only one in the group who understood that without the “bunker buster” bomb AND AIRCRAFT LARGE ENOUGH to carry it, Israeli has diminished prospects of stopping a threat to America worse than that posed by Adolf Hitler’s Germany.
Without the bunker buster bomb and aircraft to deliver it, we are going to see a lot of dead Israeli fighter pilots and destroyed fighters, and a massively diminished, balance-of-power changing Israel Air Force in the coming air battle.
In other words even in victory – if they can somehow destroy or delay Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons – the Air Force of Israel may be destroyed as President Obama, their biggest critic, delays any resupply despite a Congress that would overwhelmingly support our only consistent ally in the middle east.
Glittering generalities about “supporting Israel” or the Ron Paul, “let them work it out among themselves” stance we heard from most on the 7-candidate debate stage, just won’t work among defense minded conservative GOP primary voters.
On national security issues this one decisive answer gave Kevin Downs the clear win.
State Representative Scott Perry, who finished in first place at the “values voters” straw poll at the breakfast forum in February, has much to recommend him because of his solid track record on a number of issues of intense interest to conservatives in Harrisburg.
Scott Perry clearly works well with others. Whether that counts as good or bad you decide. And so, Perry has the endorsement of every one of the GOP legislators in the Congressional district. He makes much of the fact that he along has actually passed legislation by working with others.
But, most recently, Rep. Scott Perry has joined many of those he works well with – some 40 Republican State Representatives who “ran for the tall grass” and withdrew their sponsorship of House Bill 1077 – the “Women’s Right to Know” bill. Perhaps the 4th district would prefer someone who does NOT always “work well with others” when they are other frightened legislators – but one who works well for us, your conservative constituents?
This Scott Perry retreat has severely disappointed many of those who actually gave him a maximum “5” (perfect score on a 1-to-5 scale) or a “4” in the straw poll in February (which is: all of my sources, ie. 100%).
Further, Scott Perry and most of the Republican legislators who ran away, appear to have remained in hiding (and been VERY silent) since the friends of Planned Parenthood kicked off a barrage of email and phone calls which vastly outnumbered any supportive, friendly fire from the conservative side on HB 1077.
The idea of “regulating” Planned Parenthood’s killing machines at the abortion mills never seemed to appeal to the segment of the Tea Party which are actually more Libertarian than conservative, so that issue remains in question, even though it is simply a matter of forcing the “healthcare” provider (to use their euphemism for their “service”) to allow the expectant mother to see the ultra sound image of their baby before that baby is killed in the “procedure.”
There are some difficult choices here but several people who attended the debate told me they can now cross off the name of the former Ranger and war-veteran lawyer, despite their appreciation for his past service to America and to our cause.
Sean Summers seemed to play right into the “battering ram” of Rep. Scott Perry’s claim to be the best choice because he alone has passed bills (which would be disputed by supporters of County Commissioner Chris Reilly) and, critically, he has the “temperament” to be a U.S. Congressman.
That reminded many of those present and those of us who are watching carefully, about some of the more lunatic-fringe sounding, angry, downright mad rants directed at incumbent Congressman Todd Platts.
Such bitter, scowling-faced attacks are actually perfect examples of “how not to” influence your elected official to vote the way you wish he would.
Particularly when my sources report that two of the frequent targets of such rude and personal attack, Congressman Todd Platts and State Representative Seth Grove, reported that they have NEVER received a friendly phone call or visit urging them to vote a certain way and explaining why. “They told me they are only attacked afterwards” if they do not like the vote, said my source.
Mean spirited, personal attacks on incumbent legislators who you have never been willing to have friendly meetings and discussions with, is the way to turn off not only the public official you are attempting to influence but such public nastiness turns off the very voters we should be rallying to our cause.
Especially when such attacks by “we the people” are aimed at individuals who have won over 70% of the vote both in primaries and in general elections and have a generally conservative (though not 100%) voting record.
It remains a handicap for one candidate on that stage, Ted Waga, that he is so closely associated with some of those whose harsh, even nasty criticism of the incumbent Congressman in the last election helped return him to office with a crushing primary victory over their candidate and a 70%+ reelection win in the general election.
In fact, one of those frequent targets, Rep. Seth Grove, got the loudest applause of any of the speakers at the February meeting of the Christian-conservative group.
So, in that context, candidate and lawyer Sean Summers behavior at this GOP debate, established a new “low water mark” for political discourse in south central PA.
In that context, Scott Perry’s point about “temperament” was a good point – you do want to be sure your Congressman’s door is always open to you, and you do want to know that he will listen to his constituents and be open minded to their influence. A “bitter and negative man” is not someone who seems to have a good temperament. The contrast was in fact, staggering.
The bitter sounding, personal, character assassination attacks of Sean Summers which knocked him right off the list of people who conservatives should consider voting for in the 4th Congressional District.
Rather than aiming his best shots at what he opposes in the Obama-liberal-left agenda which is “transforming” America into something our founding fathers would not recognize he offered general platitudes which sounded unconvincing, never used his national defense background to advantage and used his short time that each candidate was allocated, to simply attack and attempt to demonize others on the stage.
In fact, the biggest backfire of the night was for him to make such a big thing about “the criminal charges” he was going to tell us about, against Rep. Scott Perry. It sounded like a page right out of Media Matters, Huffington Post and Daily Kos smear-hate websites. And he started it right at the very beginning of the debate, using his minute to say that he will be telling us more about that later. Those who heard him say this are still waiting.
In fact the audience waited until the end and at no point did this attorney – who should have known better – substantiate his “earth shaking news” about the “criminal charges” against someone who has championed many issues as a legislator that are most important to conservatives.
I do not hold any brief for Scott Perry, and have reported in this space rather critically about his withdrawal of sponsorship of HB 1077 – no convincing excuses I’ve heard so far for his disappointing retreat on an issue of top concern to “values voters” in his district and who thought in giving him a good rating that he was reliable on this topic.
But in Monday night’s GOP debate, Rep. Perry was subjected to a rather bitter and unwarranted personal attack by someone who should have known better than to be so negative and personal and borderline defamatory.
The difference in character between Sean Summers and his target is in fact, startling. Summers loses by a very lop sided margin in the comparison he insisted on, of two good men who have both served our country in the military.
I believe that before any conservative should ever consider voting for him – Sean Summers should issue a public apology to Rep. Perry for his attempted smear. Suggesting that Rep. Perry is devoid of character because of long ago charges against him – raised and dismissed when he first ran for office, is a disgusting campaign tactic which we have come to expect from the liberal left.
Anyone who uses these tactics of the left should never earn a single vote from a conservative, particularly if they claim they are Christian. Having faced criminal charges by bureaucrats because of their excessive appetite for criminalizing regulatory issues should be a badge of courage. Having the charges expunged from his record should be something an attorney knows full well, the meaning of. Sean Summers should have been the first one on that stage if he is convicted to the cause of Justice as many of us thought he was – to leap to the defense of Scott Perry if someone else raised it. His idea of a good “campaign issue” stinks on ice.
But it gets worse.
I reported critically Tuesday, “Sean Summers has much to recommend him as a candidate – as witnessed by his edging out Ted Waga by one percentage point at last month’s ACTION of PA gathering mentioned above.”
“But would Summers have finished second with this group if they knew back then, that on HB 1077 which their members support so strongly, he would have no comment and not be willing to get involved?
“Our source who provided this information had ranked him a ‘4’ (as did his wife) in the straw poll after hearing him but would have given him a zero if he knew this answer back then.”
If Sean Summers wanted to talk about character and use his military knowledge of tactics to “outflank” the accomplished legislator Scott Perry then the first thing he might want to do is reconsider his position on speaking out about HB 1077.
Because fellow military veteran, Rep. Scott Perry, at least had his name on the line and stood on front rank of that fight before he and 40 of his fellow legislators executed a retreat in the face of superior “numbers” coming at them from the friends of Planned Parenthood.
But Sean Perry was never, ever even IN that battle, and say he won’t ever be – it is not his issue.
But he wants us to consider character and the fact that one of the candidates once many years ago had criminal charges placed against him. So, no trial, no verdict – the former Army prosecutor knows that when the government accuses you of something then you are surely guilty and we shouldn’t vote for that person?
I’m with the three different people from ACTION of PA who reported to me about the two consecutive Monday’s at which they heard and talked to Scott Perry and to Sean Summers. Perry is still on the short list of people who may earn their vote. Perry is planning to meet with a delegation from the group shortly and speak frankly to them about what must be done for HB 1077 to prevail.
Sean Summers isn’t even interested and so, he is off my short list or any list of people I’d even consider voting for, and things get a little simpler now. Thanks again for your service Sean Summers but you won’t be a U.S. Congressman from south Central Pennsylvania.
Eric Martin, the last of the three candidates reminded us of the obvious that, he is young at age 26. But he reassured us, Albert Einstein was young also. I suppose he could have spoken of the age of those who lay their life on the line in service of their country in Afghanistan and Iran in the past few years but then, he is a Ron Paul guy and if he ever speaks about military matters it is to urge “bring the boys home” and other echoes from the anti-war George McGovern campaign against Richard Nixon in 1968.
One of my sources told me he in fact had the chance at least 5 times – although they were all a stretch to be relevant – he would “bring them home” and also he alone would follow the Constitution.
Eric Martin struck people as a nice, idealistic young man who does not much represent anyone’s views in the room, but is welcome to his few minutes on the stage to explain why he is a Libertarian and is anti-war. He missed is biggest bet, to say that (if he feels this way) he can speak most passionately against ObamaCare because it is an issue close to home with his father being a Doctor.
Well, enough of the reportage and the free advice to the 7 candidates.
Now, onward with Ted Waga, Chris Reilly, Rep. Scott Perry (and perhaps Kevin Downs), all of whom appear to have the strongest base of support among conservatives, and two of whom will have serious ad campaigns and a serious “ground game” – Reilly and Perry.
From this group of three to four – and most likely from the group of two I mention out of the seven, in my judgment, one will emerge as the new, and more conservative replacement for incumbent Rep. Todd Platts for the 4th Congressional District in south Central, “red state” Pennsylvania.
It appears that any of them, particularly the top two contenders who have that “temperament” that Perry referred to – will most likely give us a better ACU or Heritage Action score than the incumbent but nobody can be a more affable, friendly and hardworking Congressman than Todd Platts.
HanoverHenry of RED STATE is Pat Henry on Facebook, and I’m on the lookout for new friends there. You can also communicate via private mail at Facebook, and I welcome new sources for my articles focusing on the conservative-Christian viewpoint in Pennsylvania. I appreciate your sharing this article elsewhere and only ask that you include this “disclaimer” in any reprints or sharing you do. And I thank those whose information have helped me with some of my reports, including those who do not wish to be quoted by name.
Links to articles I wrote at RED STATE at my Facebook Notes section.